Palestine

Jerusalem: Election in an occupied city

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An election has been held in Jerusalem. The election has taken place under Israeli control, i.e. while the city has been occupied by, and incorporated into, Israel. This means the election is in contravention of international law.


The UN ? the General Assembly and the Security Council ? have passed resolutions a number of times which ?censure in the strongest terms? all measures implemented by Israel to change Jerusalem?s status, and which ?condemn? Israel?s annexation of the city. An election in Jerusalem, arranged by Israel and made a part of an ?Israeli? election, will be illegitimate and invalid.

The UN?s censure and condemnation of Israel?s actions in Jerusalem refer to the city?s ?status?. What is Jerusalem?s status according to international law?

That status reflects Jerusalem?s unique position in the world as a religious centre for half of mankind, for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Jerusalem is holy by virtue of beliefs and dreams, prophets and saints, divine revelations and historic events ? which affect hundreds of millions of people, in all corners of the globe.

Jerusalem?s legal status is being an internationalized city, a corpus separatum under an international governing body, administered on behalf of the UN. And Israel is censured and condemned because its occupation and annexation of Jerusalem is in contravention of this status, as passed by the UN (Res. 181 (II) of 29 November 1947).

This status for the city applies to the city as a whole, both to the western and the eastern part of it. Jerusalem?s western part was occupied by Israel during the war in 1948. Israel, too, first referred to this part as ?Israeli-occupied territory? and put it under military administration. However, soon the military administration was phased out, and gradually western Jerusalem was made a part of the State of Israel. On 23. January 1950 the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) passed a resolution that declared that Jerusalem had ?always? been the capital city of Israel. And since then Israel has treated western Jerusalem as an integral part of its own territory.

But the large majority of states in the world have not accepted this, and still regard the western part of Jerusalem as Israeli-occupied territory. In line with this they have refused to move their embassies to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, in order not to legitimize the Israeli occupation.

Jerusalem?s eastern part was occupied by Israel during the June war in 1967. And three weeks after the occupation this part of Jerusalem was also incorporated into Israel. In this way Israel had annexed almost all of the corpus separatum of Jerusalem defined by the UN in 1947 as being subject to international administration. Israel has taken the city in contravention of this UN resolution. However the resolution is still applicable, giving the city its international status.

The resolution has not been implemented. But that does not alter its validity. Israel?s occupation and annexation of Jerusalem (for a while Jordan held the eastern part) breaches the UN?s resolution on the city?s status but does not annul it. The UN has condemned Israel?s practices in the city a number of times, confirming the applicable resolution.

It is not possible for Israel to claim that Resolution 181 (II) is not binding on them. The resolution supports the establishment of Israel, and is Israel?s ?birth certificate?. If Israel rejects the resolution, with the decision concerning Jerusalem?s status, it will simultaneously tear up the same certificate and undermine its own legitimacy.

For Israel to hold elections in Jerusalem ? which in international terms is an occupied city ? is neither acceptable nor valid. Israel has no right to do so, other than by the right of an occupying power. Jerusalem is a holy city for half of mankind. If the city is occupied, this will always create unrest. Israel?s measures in the city ?constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East? according to the UN Security Council (Resolution 465). These measures prejudice ?the interests of the international community? (Resolution 298). Elections and other measures promoted by Israel in Jerusalem underscore the city?s illegal status.

That is a standpoint we must stick firmly to.

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